LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The convicted drug dealer suspected in the disappearance and murder of former Fox executive Gavin Smith was indicted Wednesday on one count of capital murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
A superseding grand jury indictment unsealed Wednesday afternoon charges John Lenzie Creech, 42, with the special circumstance of lying in wait in the May 2, 2012, murder of Smith, a former UCLA basketball player and father of three.
Smith, then 57, was last seen May 1, 2012, leaving a friend’s home in Ventura County. Smith’s black Mercedes-Benz E420 was found a year later, on Feb. 21, 2013, at a Simi Valley storage facility connected to Creech.
Creech pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the capital murder charge before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Brandlin. Creech, who is being held without bail, returns to court April 27 in Department 102 for pretrial.
Deputy District Attorney Bobby Grace with the Major Crimes Division is prosecuting Creech.
The special circumstance makes Creech, serving an eight-year sentence for sale or transportation of drugs, eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It was alleged that Smith was at one point romantically involved with Creech’s wife.
Creech’s attorney has said his client and Smith had a fight and Smith died as result of a “tragic accident.”
The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.